England fans can’t be feeling fantastic about their chances in the World Cup later this year.
Despite playing some truly fantastic rugby, the team’s inability to control games in the second half will be exploited on a grand stage when facing the southern hemisphere teams.
Head coach Eddie Jones has claimed he knows where the problem lies, but the guru is inspiring less confidence than he used to.
Let’s unpack England’s Six Nations campaign with the end of term report.
What we know: Jonny May is very good at rugby
Two minutes into the tournament, England wing Jonny May had crossed over. He would do the same on another five occasions, and finished top of the try scorer standings, two clear of France’s Yoann Huget in second place. If nothing else, England will have a ferocious attacking threat in Asia later this year.
What we know: the back row is in better shape than we thought
Tom Curry had a sensational tournament at openside flanker, and Billy Vunipola’s presence at number eight is all-but assured (please, please be fit, Billy). Options at the blindside flanker spot include Mark Wilson, Brad Shields, and dare I say it – Chris Robshaw?
What we know: Jamie George is the first choice hooker
Jones may be infatuated with Dylan Hartley, but Jamie George separated himself from the veteran as the prominent hooker. The former skipper didn’t feature in the Six Nations after struggling with injury, but I expect he will still be included come September – just not in the starting XV!
What we know: the second row is still stacked with talent
Take your pick at the no. 4 and no. 5 spots… Maro Itoje, Joe Launchbury, George Kruis, Courtney Lawes all appeared during the Six Nations, and could appear in any combination when the team heads east.
What we know: Elliot Daly is the full-back going forward
He took the role in the Autumn Internationals, and has only strengthened his claim on the spot with his performances in the Six Nations. I would like to see the Wasps star become more assured with the boot, but I can’t fault his tenacity from that deep-lying position.
What we don't know: is Farrell the captain to take England to the World Cup?
I’d like to start this by saying that I think he is – please don’t shout at me. His personal temperament is now far more befitting of a captain than it had been in years past, but being a skipper means more than just that. His calmness has to sweep through the whole team, and we did not see that in the Six Nations this year. Two blown second half leads have generated questions over the fly-half’s captaincy.
What we don't know: can Kyle Sinckler keep a cool head?
It frustrates me that Kyle Sinckler is as ill-disciplined as he is, because he’s absolutely fantastic. Unfortunately, he’s no use sat in the sin-bin. He just about held it together in the tournament, but teams will no doubt be taking to the field on a mission to wind the prop up.
What we don't know: who is playing on the other wing?
Jack Nowell, Chris Ashton, or Joe Cokanasiga? All saw starts in the Six Nations, and all offer strong attacking attributes. I think Jones is leaning towards Nowell, but I would love to see Ashton play a role in Japan. I’m a sucker for a redemptive story…
What we don't know: are plans in place if Mako is unfit?
Mako Vunipola has historically struggled to stay fit, and we saw those issues reemerge in the Six Nations this year. Ben Moon and Ellis Genge both got starts, but Jones will need a more robust contingency plan if and when Mako goes down.
What we don't know: is Eddie Jones a massive fraud?
I honestly have no idea what the answer to this question is – but I know when we’re going to find out! See you in Japan.
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